Addon Review: StumbleUpon

For nearly a year now, I’ve been following a cool social browsing addon called StumbleUpon. As of last week, the StumbleUpon addon is available for Internet Explorer, and is one of my favorite addons.

Here’s how it works: As you browse the web, whenever you come across a page that is particular interesting to you, you can click the “thumbs up” button in your toolbar. And if you don’t like a page, you can hit the “thumbs down” button. You don’t have to rate every page, just the ones you feel strongly about, and clicking a button in the toolbar is a pretty simple way to give feedback.


Now, as StumbleUpon learns what you like and don’t like, it automatically matches you with clusters of users who have similar preferences. Then, as you browse, you can choose to “stumble” to pages that are preferred by other people who are similar to you. You don’t have to share your votes with anyone else, but if you opt-in, you help other people find cool new sites too.

Om Malik says that it is “simply addictive”, and many others agree. I find that StumbleUpon can recommend content to me that is more interesting and relevant to me than many of the other content filters like techmeme or digg.

The addon was initially developed for Firefox, and quickly became popular. But a tool like StumbleUpon gets smarter when there are more people using it, and the team soon needed to extend the feature to the majority of Internet users who use Internet Explorer. and TechCrunch have both commented on the business case for shipping on Internet Explorer, and that’s easy enough to understand.

But how difficult or expensive was it? Well, Justin from the StumbleUpon team told me, “Our experience porting our Firefox addon to IE7 has been smooth and relatively painless – actually a lot easier than we expected. Within a month we built an IE7 toolbar implementing all desired functionality as well as a few features exclusive to the IE platform.”

Download it and try it out! Do you have a great add-on that you need help porting to Internet Explorer? Let us know how we can help you.

Joshua Allen
Technical Evangelist

Comments (30)

  1. Jonathan says:

    What would be really nice is the ability to create single buttons that can be added to the customize toolbar, and then dragged into the toolbar area – for example next to the RSS icon etc.

    We provide photo, music and favorite sharing plus a blog platform so it would be very useful for people to select just the function they wanted rather than a whole toolbar

  2. Jeremy Morton says:

    I agree with Jonathan; IE7 discourages toolbars, and I don’t want to waste the space for two buttons.

  3. It would be nice for developers if the toolbars could be easily developed in Visual Studio with .NET… and if the DOM were easily accessible and such. Until then, I don’t think you’ll see the widespread use of add-ons you’ll need to crush Firefox 😛 .

    But seriously… I’d really like full .NET support of the DOM.

  4. Jonathan says:

    Another nice feature would be "open all sites in folder".

    So for eg. I create a group of sites in a "links" folder, then to open all of them in tabs I right click on the folder and select "open all in separate tabs" much like I can have multiple home page tabs.

    This is not something that will massively change adoption of the browser like the suggestion above – just a nice to have 🙂

  5. JMorton says:

    Jonathan, that already exists, right-click the folder and choose "Open in Tab Group". Or just click the right-pointing arrow that appears to the right of the folder name when you hover the cursor over it. Or use the arrow keys to highlight the folder and hit Ctrl-Enter. 😉

  6. Jonathan says:

    On thinking about the buttons onto toolbar idea further, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to drag them straight from a web page onto the browser toolspace. Or at least make it seem that way to the user?

    SO as a developer – I display an image of some sort on my web page that represents the button to be created, users could then drag that image onto the toolbar space where they want it and some background code does the rest…

    Much like your currrent idea of dragging links to tabs. Incidentally if I drag a link onto the "open new tab" tab it doesn’t quite work – tries to open the link in the existing tab rather than a new one.

  7. Jeremy: I think Jonathan’s suggestion is ability to add/replace single buttons to the area at right of tabs.  IE7 doesn’t discourage toolbars — the toolbar fits very nicely in my chrome when I have claasic menus hidden (the default), and I have no complaints about the UI.  I use some other toolbars too, which I’ll be reviewing in the future.

    Wraith: The PM handling extensibility will be blogging periodically in the future, and will talk about suggestion for future versions of IE, tools support, as well as things you can do today using .NET.  We hope to make it a lot easier to find the info you need and move quickly.

    Jonathan: Open all sites in folder you can do today in IE7.  Open the favorites center (gold star on left) and hover over a folder of favorites.  Click the blue right-arrow or hit ctrl-enter to open all sites in the folder as tabs.

  8. nate says:

    I just downloaded StumbleUpon and so far it is very cool, except for one thing.  I can’t use the Toolbar Options!  It is grayed out for me, and I was hoping there was a way in the options to remove the buttons I dont use.  I really only want the thumbs up, thumbs down, and Stumble buttons.

  9. JMorton says:

    Joshua, you can’t put a toolbar next to the command bar, so adding a toolbar causes you to expand the chrome by a whole row, and it’s just not worth it for three buttons that I want. If it was one button with a drop down menu in the Command Bar, I would be all over it.

    In IE6, it wasn’t an issue, because I put all the bars [including address] on one row…

  10. Jonathan says:

    Thanks Joshua,

    Yes – I meant adding buttons to the area to the right of tabs, it would allow developers to create simple stand alone buttons to add functionality.

    We face the difficult task now of trying to convince a user to install a whole toolbar, and to be honest most toolbars only have one or two features that a user might want, so they decide not to install the toolbar at all. Allowing drop downs on the toolbuttons would naturally be useful.

    Allowing the "blue arrow" on hover in "lnks" folders would be nice [fewer mouse clicks]. Since Links can be displayed in the top of the browser and favorites can’t… So I could then have a task specific folder [such as all the weather lnks at a ski resort 🙂 ]

    Another request too – "search on this page" by just typing the word you are looking for – like firefox

  11. PatriotB says:

    Jonathan — you can add individual toolbar buttons.  See this article for more information:

    This technique is used by Office’s Research button, and by Windows Messenger, AIM, RealPlayer, and others.

  12. Joshua,

    I’ve been happily using Stumbleupon for both IE & Firefox for quite some time now – it’s a great add on, but it has been available for IE for a while.


  13. Aaron Z. says:

    I have to agree with Jonathan–I am not willing to add a whole row to my browser so that I can use one or two buttons on a toolbar.  I have installed a few toolbars, but upon finding that I would have to add a row at the top of the browser, I have discontinued the use of those toolbars.  If I could add a button to the right of the tabs, I would do it in a heartbeat.  Some toolbars that have several functions could even have a drop-down menu to save on space.

  14. Fernando says:

    Well, I didn’t like it that much. Ok. Now let’s see how I remove this thing.

    Look at Add/Remove Programs: nothing there. Oh. Look in the options in the toolbar menu: no unistall. Now I’m starting to get angry.

    Clicked on help, which tells me to use the uninstall option in the help menu – which by the way does not exist. It then tells me to do a regsrv32 /u c:winntstumble.dll – which also does not exist! Arghhhh!!!!!

    (btw I loved c:winnt, really brings me old memories of Windows NT 4, which was the last OS that defaulted to this path).

    Searching the hard disk, I finally found inside the %programfiles% an uninstall executable, which finally removed the software, but not without asking me to reboot my machine.

    Overall, it looks like pre-beta software. Don’t this folks have any QA in place? No testers?

  15. Rick says:

    Tried to install the toolbar and it would not install, tried both downloading and running without downloading. I got an error message saying the install program maybe corrupted. No help on the site. Oh, well

  16. Boris Yeltsin says:

    A sane way of developing toolbars in .NET is seriously hampering the future of IE, IMO.

    Just a set of .NET example projects that implement some simple toolbars (buttons, drop-down folder menus) etc would be perfect so that developers could simply add their business logic and build away.

  17. Ivan says:

    Back in March, the IE7 Feedback site went live, allowing us developers/testers/power users the ability to report all the bugs in IE7, and provide feature requests.  At the time, a mini-FAQ was presented too.

    #8 from that FAQ, was:


    What else does the IE team have planned for this program?

    There will be an ongoing blog for feedback created in the near term which will cover the top issues reported during the week, what is getting the most votes from users, and so forth. This will be run by Al Billings as part of the overall feedback process…<clipped>


    So the question is, where is this Blog? I know Al is no longer in the MSIE picture, but I think this is a critical item.

    Every day, new posts are placed on this Blog, and the Feedback site, noting the various errors, and what is causing the most greif, with the latest Beta release.

    Since the Blog in question doesn’t exist yet, it is *very* hard for us to tell you, that the most important issue at the moment is [_fill_in _the_blank_].

    Now that Beta 3 has shipped, and the Final is pressumably next, these last few months, seem like the critical time, to prioritize all the remaining bugs to get the most important ones fixed.  Keeping in mind, that important is a relative term, but with the feedback from your users, and the readers of this forum, you will at least know what is bugging us the most, and therefore know what we expect to see fixed in the final.



  18. @hA1l:

    I’ve seen these… boris probably has too. They’re great articles as well.

    However, the difficulty lies in all the GAC and COM muck, as well as a lack of good DOM support.

  19. Fernando: good point; will contact about using MSI for uninstaller.

    Aaron,John,JMorton: I see what you mean.  You can combine more than one toolbar in one row of chrome, though, so if I convince you in the future that you need some other toolbars, it will be worth it 🙂

    Wraith,Boris: Better guidance on installers, COM/GAC issues, etc. — good feedback

  20. J J says:

    You can uninstall the toolbar from its menu…

  21. J J says:

    You can uninstall the toolbar from its "about stumbleupon" menu

  22. doviine says:

    toolbar options for stumbleupon allows you to choose which buttons to add to your toolbar. and you can always hide the entire toolbar when not "stumbling."

  23. teknikool says:

    I wish they allowed buttons and toolbars to go on the bottom of the IE window.

  24. John Tempest says:

    Please excuse this off-topic question, but please can anyone explain to me why IE7 BETA 3 displays this weblog with 3 substitute characters for the extended ASCII characters for "intelligent" quotes and apostrophes, while Outlook Beta 2’s view of this same weblog displays the original characters correctly? Is there some adjustment I have to make to IE7?

  25. EricLaw [MSFT] says:

    @Wraith Daquell: Can you elaborate on what you mean by "full .NET support of the DOM"?  .NET and COM extensions both have full access to the page DOM.

  26. rays says:

    Well stumbleupon has major management issues.They would improve if a business bought them.Censorship in the forums is insane.Your not allowed to mention bad things about it,they hide it or their mod cloudhopper does.Hes the worse mod Ive ever seen!Hes not a nice person.When they have system problems they dont warn you.They change things without fixing old problems.The ratings of peoples sites is a huge mess which they ignore.Ive gotten 4 viruses from it already.